College Football

Georgia beats Alabama for first NCAA title since 1980 season

Former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett and an opportunistic Georgia defence led the Bulldogs to their first national championship since 1980 in the College Football Playoff National Championship in Indianapolis on Monday night, defeating defending champion Alabama 33-18.

Bennett came back from a key fumble to throw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to help Georgia overcome an 18-13 deficit.

Bennett overcame a poor start to complete 17 of 26 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, sparking the late rally.

Georgia's defence forced field goals on three of Alabama's four red-zone possessions and sealed the game with a late pick-six of Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young.

Young, the Heisman Trophy winner as a sophomore, completed 35 of 57 passes for 369 yards and a touchdown, but he was under significantly more pressure from Georgia's pass rush than he was in Alabama's 41-24 SEC Championship Game triumph over Georgia a month ago. Georgia's defence, which is ranked No. 1 in the country, stifled Alabama's rushing assault for most of the game and sacked Young four times.

Running back James Cook broke a 67-yard rush to set up Georgia's first touchdown, which was one of many prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft that played in the game. Cook has accepted an offer to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl in February, the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. On six carries, Cook gained 77 yards.

Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a senior and another promising draught prospect, helped anchor the line of scrimmage for a Bulldogs defence that limited Alabama running back Brian Robinson to 68 yards on 22 attempts. Robinson is also a Senior Bowl candidate. Georgia line-backer Nakobe Dean (four tackles, one pass breakup), defensive back Lewis Cine (seven tackles), and defensive end Travon Walker (sack) all played crucial roles for the Bulldogs. All three are draft-eligible juniors who have yet to indicate whether they will file for 2022 draught eligibility.

On a 40-yard reception down the middle of the field, Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, one of college football's most dangerous downfield threats, was injured and did not return. Williams made an awkward step after the grab and was tackled by a defender, clutching his knee, but he was able to return to the side-line and watch the second half without crutches. Williams, a junior, is also a good draught possibility, but he has not stated whether he plans to submit for early eligibility.

Alabama led 9-6 at halftime after a back-and-forth battle of field goals highlighted by defensive standouts on both sides.

Bennett was sacked three times by Alabama line-backer Christian Harris and twice by rookie line-backer Dallas Turner, but the Bulldogs held Crimson Tide star pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. without a sack for the first time since Oct. 9 against Texas A&M.

College Football